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  #21  
Unread 8th July 2011, 04:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taza View Post
Can't wait to hear about more.
Me either

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Unread 11th July 2011, 03:11 PM
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I'm Jealous!! About two things: Your trip. And your camera!

Keep them coming - great writing skills too! Have you thought about writing an article for a magazine? Might be worth looking into

Cheers

Bennie
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Unread 12th July 2011, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by El_Freddo View Post
Keep them coming - great writing skills too! Have you thought about writing an article for a magazine? Might be worth looking into
^Ditto
I'll 2nd that

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  #24  
Unread 12th July 2011, 11:20 AM
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^ Thanks everyone for the nice comments. Since you've been so nice, here is another installment.

Day 5: Waking in the Coorong.

When I was a child, which was a very long time ago, a volcano spewed lava creating the water filled crater that we now know as the Blue Lake in Mt Gambier.

http://www.volcanolive.com/mtgambier.html

Soon after that, I saw a film called ‘Storm Boy”, based on a novel by Colin Thiele of the same name. The story follows the adventures of a young boy who lives in the Coorong with his father, who but for his son would have been a hermit. The film and the book tell the story of the relationship the boy develops with three pelican chicks he rescues after their mother is shot, and sees one of the chicks, Mr Perceval, develop to adulthood.

The name Mr Perceval is synonymous with pelicans for many people of my age, such is the impression that the film made in many of us. More impressive to me however was the absolutely wild nature of the Coorong as depicted in the film and its imagery was one of many things in my mind as I went about getting breakfast on day 5..

The significance of the Coorong to Ngarrindjeri people was also in my thoughts that morning, but I lacked detail other than the fact that the Coorong had supported them for millennia, and extensive middens remained as evidence of this.

To be frank though, the weather that morning was anything but energising: thick grey clouds, a cold air mass, a hint of drizzle from time to time and a sea breeze. I also felt pretty grotty, and made a point of having a thorough wash and complete change of clothes before I set off from camp.

I was at Wreck Crossing, one of the more southerly crossings – points where you could gain access to Encounter Bay from the narrow strip of saltwater lagoon behind the dunes that is the Coorong. Wreck Crossing lies between the imaginatively named 28 Mile Crossing and 32 Mile Crossing, the latter of which is unsurprisingly 10 miles south of 42 Mile Crossing. Inspiring stuff which did not detract from my somewhat nonplussed mood that morning.



(In the map above, the Coorong National Park is the thin stretch of green on the coast which starts just north of Kingston SE, and runs to Lake Alexandrina)

I had choices to make: to sit in camp and read some of the wealth of written material I had, such as Ngarrindjeri icon David Unaipon’s work “Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines”, or the various brochures and maps of the area I had collected in Mt Gambier. The other alternative was to explore, and that seemed a more fitting way to escape the unease and self questioning I had somehow embarked on over coffee.

The most obvious thing to do was to traverse the crossing to the beach, and hope to leave my mood behind in the campsite (which was in itself quite a good campsite: basic, no facilities, no people and sheltered in thick tea tree scrub).

I took the Wreck Crossing track towards Encounter Bay, through a wild jumble of dunes on rough but not difficult sand. One section required caution in descending, but that being traversed it was not difficult going. In the dunes approaching the beach, I noticed the first of the said middens.



For those unfamiliar with the term midden, it is a scattering, sometimes quite dense, of the shells of shellfish which have been left behind by Aboriginal people, the contents of the shell having been eaten. They are common in coastal areas in south eastern Australia, but this one was massive. The small white fragments in the photo above are in fact large-ish shells, and as you can see they extend over a substantial area.

Obviously, a midden is not created in a day, a week, month or year, but over many years. Thankfully, this midden is fenced off from the track to help conserve it.

I continued, and was soon on the beach, looking north:



and then south:



It was spectacular, but the narrowness of the beach itself was a disappointment. I had intended to drive along the beach in a northerly direction, to at least 42 Mile crossing. The tides however had been high of late, principally because the moon had been at perigee a matter of less than a week prior, as documented by NASA among others:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...mar_supermoon/

I was not prepared to take the risk of encountering washouts alone on an expansive stretch of beach such as this. I had been scanning UHF channels in the morning, and had heard not evidence of any traffic on the beach. It was a Saturday, and I thought that there should have been people out fishing, but I was not sure. I was still somewhat uneasy, and that unease, combined with the narrowness of the beach itself led me to exercise caution and turn back along the Wreck Crossing Track.

Back off the beach, and the view of the dune field was breathtaking.



I wasn’t too upset about my retreat from the beach. It meant that I was not being stupid and I felt reassured somewhat that I was not rushing into situations and that I was making rational decisions, despite the range of options before me. The retreat meant I would end up towards the northern end of the Coorong over the next day or so, and would then be in striking distance of Adelaide and Port Augusta.

Content with those thoughts, I resolved to get back to the Old Coorong Road, and get somewhere near 42 Mile Crossing for lunch. I approach the one section of rough track, and the heavily loaded Subaru didn’t want to get up it first time…

Or second time…

Or third time.

I decided to give it a decent run to keep momentum, but I kept reaching the same spot where the ruts were deep and uneven, leading to having wheels not touching the ground.

Then I gunned it, heard a bang and a loud growling noise as I continued up the dune. I had no option than to get up on the flat, but the noise was terrifying. I assumed that I had broken a driveshaft or something like that. To say that I was fu^*ing spewing was an understatement.
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Unread 12th July 2011, 11:24 AM
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Day 5 continues...


I got out and surveyed the damage: Both rear wheels were at impossible angles to the body, as if the springs had collapsed. I had heard of this happening with leaf springs under heavy load, but independent suspension?

And what of the noise? I looked closed and found that the spring seats were resting on the tyres, and that is what was causing the noise. I hoped that that was the only problem, but I was not prepared to wreck two BF Goodrich AT tyres by driving the vehicle in this state, nor risk other damage from possible unseen problems.

So, it was time for some close analysis, bush mechanic style accompanied by a soliloquy symptomatic of either advanced tourettes or a fixation on fornication.

Rear wheel removed, it was obvious that the struts were bent: so much so that the springs had become wedged against the inside of the wheel well. Before I was to get anywhere I needed to resolve this, so I set about trying to get some leverage. Eventually after an hour of trying various objects, I settled on the bull bag which to those unfamiliar with the term is like a giant balloon used as a jack, which one inflates by connecting it to the exhaust pipe.

Given that the exhaust pipe was recessed into the rear bar, this was not easy, but I did have an extra piece of pipe that I wedged into the exhaust and connected to the bull bag hose. It leaked a bit, but it inflated the bag. I deflated the bag after this test, refitted the wheel, and wedged the bag between the wheel arch and the wheel. I held the bag filler hose firm over the extension pipe and BANG: the spring was free.

I repeated the exercise on the left hand side, and was equally successful. Despite all of this, the tyres remained in contact with the spring seats. Sustained and colourful profanity ensued for a few minutes.

I kept eating biscuits and drinking water through all of this though, so as to avoid weakness through exertions and dehydration. A substantial proportion of the contents of the vehicle had been removed, and tools were all over the place. I had detected no radio signals, and had no mobile coverage. I decided to try for another hour to get moving, and if that didn’t work it was time to walk to the highway.

That hour passed pretty quickly, and I reloaded everything into the vehicle. I filled a day pack with first aid kit, radio, mobile phone, a change of underwear, a clean shirt, a safety vest(to flag down cars) a handheld CB, my camera, GPS and some muesli bars. I grabbed the hydration pack and filled it. I paused for a moment before setting off due east towards the highway.

The vehicle was left in this state:



I surveyed the section of track where the struts had effectively collapsed, and it really didn’t look that bad.



I couldn’t figure out how the struts had sh%t themselves like that, but now was not the time to solve that question. It was about 2.30 pm, and I wanted to get to Kingston and get help before dark.

The car was off the track. I left a note on the windscreen to indicate where I had gone, so as to not spark an unwarranted search by any emergency service personnel who might be alerted to the abandoned vehicle. I radioed again before I set off, but no response.

I strapped the hydration pack to my front, put the backpack on my back, and hoofed it back to where I had camped. Since no-one was in the campground, I set off due east across the dry southern section of the salt lake, and within about an hour of forced march I was at the highway which I had estimated to be about 5 km from the vehicle.

Two cars sped past on their way to Kingston, but I had not quite emerged from the bushes in time to signal them. A short wheelbase Landcruiser soon came past, heading away from Kingston but I didn’t bother to wave it down since it was not going my way. I started walking determinedly along the highway, some 60 km from the nearest town. The road noise subsided, and I was alone.
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  #26  
Unread 12th July 2011, 12:26 PM
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Now, that is some sh** for luck my friend. Sorry to hear about your troubles, although i'm very interested to see how it all went. I've actually thought about getting one of those that you call a "bull bag". I've seen them in use on the beach, or unlevel areas to change a flat when a jack is not stable or safe. Over here i've heard them called x-jacks.

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  #27  
Unread 12th July 2011, 01:02 PM
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I had something like this happen to me not too long ago on a camping trip. Although it came to be that the camber bolts bent, moving my tire towards the strut and hitting the spring seats. Replacing the camber bolts with more robust versions fixed my issue.

Happened on each side at different times going over rough terrain with the car packed with gear + food/drinks. If your struts are actually bent, well then, thats strange. But be sure to check the camber bolts.
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  #28  
Unread 13th July 2011, 05:33 AM
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Sorry to hear about the car troubles whilst doing that climb Good to see that you were well prepared though with water food etc, etc
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dulagarl View Post
The road noise subsided, and I was alone.
That must of been an eerie feeling to say the least & quite scary at the same time.
Really on the edge of my seat now & very interested to hear how it all worked out

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Unread 13th July 2011, 07:45 AM
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The suspense is killing me. Sorry about the troubles, but glad you were well prepared.

And even though it was in your time of trouble, this gave me a good laugh for the morning;
"Sustained and colourful profanity ensued for a few minutes."
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  #30  
Unread 20th July 2011, 09:36 AM
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So, another instalment is ready. Apologies in advance for it being wordy and not very pictorial.


Three cars came by in rapid succession, heading from the north towards Kingston. I stood by the side of the road, holding the folded safety vest in my hand and waving it in a wide arc above my head, emphasising the side of the road. Each time I thought that a car was going to stop: they seemed to slow down upon first seeing me, then as they drew closer they seemed to speed up a little almost as a cruel joke. It really didn’t seem to make any sense.

I wondered what I could possibly be doing wrong, or whether people out here were just pri*ks who wouldn’t pick up a hitchhiker. I mean, it should be obvious that I was in some sort of difficulty, if not trouble, and that I needed a lift. It couldn’t be too hard to figure out, could it?

It seemed a long time until the next car came along, and it too repeated the pattern of initially slowing, then speeding up again. Each driver that went past also took a decent look at me, as if to satisfy themselves that I was either what they thought I was, or that I was not what they hoped I was. It really was puzzling.

It must have been about 45 minutes from the time I had reached the Princes Highway that a car ultimately stopped. (Note to our overseas readers: the Prices Hwy is our national highway; highway one, but it can in places have not a lot of traffic) A Subaru Liberty, recent model, very clean inside with a youngish bloke called Tom driving it. About the only other thing I noticed was a packet of cigarettes, and I’m really not sure why that mattered since I haven’t smoked for over a year. Anyway, he was a crowd controller, who ran his own business, and was travelling to Robe to check out a venue for a music festival that was slated for the Easter weekend.

I mentioned that a few cars had gone past, and that he was the first to stop. I described the strange way in which cars slowed and then sped up, at which he explained that at first sight I looked like a copper waving a beacon to get him to stop. He explained that he had been doing about 130kmh when he first spotted me, and slowed to 100.

I now understood what had been going through the minds of the previous drivers: “Oh sh&t a copper, slow down, I’m busted, ahh F2ck it it’s just some backpacker / crank / geezer / idiot in a South Australian Fire Service cap that looked like a copper. Stuff him for making me slow down!”

I consoled myself by reflecting that it wasn’t because I was an ugly *******.

As we talked I chewed on an apple, genuinely grateful for my lift. We were soon I Kingston and I got dropped off at the police station, so that I could let them know that I was not lost somewhere between my vehicle and the ocean. It being Saturday afternoon, the cop shop was unattended and there was a phone number to ring on the front door, so I went through that formality. Given that pretty much everything in Kingston SE would be closed, I thought I’d go to the most important piece of social infrastructure in town: the pub.

By chance the first pub I found was the Royal Mail Hotel: a large establishment for a town of this size, with a front bar, pool tables, and dining room, accommodation and (ughh) pokies. Can’t have it all my way I suppose.

I could go on about how events transpired that afternoon, but it would actually bore me to write about the ins and outs of explaining to a pub full of locals on a Saturday afternoon how I managed to get stuck where and how I goy\t stuck and how I managed to get where I was now. I am certain that it would be even more boring for you to read it.

I had soon arranged for a local by the name of Dave Moreland to pick me up in the morning (at who knows what cost!) to collect the vehicle (Royal Automotive Association don’t salvage from sand dunes!). I checked in, had a beer, and settled in for the night after an excellent feed of King George Whiting.

The next morning in the breakfast room, I came to the conclusion that I was the only guest in the hotel. This was confirmed by the cleaner, jenny, who introduced herself, saying “you must be Greg”. She explained that I had the same name as her husband, and kindly offered the use of her car while I was stuck in town getting repairs. I was really starting to like this town!

At the designated time the next morning, Dave Moreland collected me as arranged. It turned out that he had been driving the short wheelbase Landcruiser that was going in the opposite direction the day prior when I emerged from the scrub at the edge of the Princes Highway. We dropped his Falcon off at his place, which was on the way out of town, and picked up the Landcruiser and salvage gear and headed off to try to get the vehicle moving.

To say that Dave was a gentleman would be accurate. To say that he is a fu&kin’ great bloke would be more appropriate. We got to know each other quite well on the way to the vehicle, and more so as we tried to get it mobile.

We had hoped to bend the struts sufficiently to enable the vehicle to be driven all the way to Kingston, but it was not to be. By turning the rear wheels inside out, we at least got it rolling enough so that we could get it to the old Coorong Road where flat bed transport was possible.



As you can see, there was no question of driving this thing the 65 km or so back to Kingston. Soon enough we had the local towing company truck on site, thanks to Dave knowing the driver well.



I must say, despite the rats^it angle of the rear wheels, and the lowered rear end, the wide track look wasn’t too bad! Others who arrived on the scene commented similarly, adding that the vehicle had a bit of a Paris-Dakar look to it.

(continues)
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